Healthcare shortage tackled by Thai government with new strategy

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Thai government’s Public Health Ministry laid out strategies to address the ongoing shortage of healthcare professionals in the nation’s state-operated medical sector. Within the next three years, these measures aim to expand the country’s cadre of medical personnel according to current legal parameters.

The government spokesperson, Anucha Buraphachaisri, indicated the interventions may result in a 40% increase in doctors and over a 50% surge in nursing staff by 2026. The actions respond to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s concerns over the persistent scarcity of medical professionals. The lack of healthcare personnel has placed a considerable burden on new graduates, many of whom opt to leave the high-pressure environment of state-run hospitals for more lucrative and less taxing positions in private institutions.

Buraphachaisri added that Prayut Chan-o-cha recognises the driving factors behind the dearth of medical staff. Thus, the government has taken steps to address this pressing issue, targeting both immediate and long-term solutions.

Part of the solution involves redirecting a larger share of health personnel to support the rehabilitative needs of the country’s estimated one million drug addicts – an area regarded as one of the Ministry’s highest priorities. Buraphachaisri also noted that Tambon health promotion hospitals, designed to relieve larger urban hospitals by providing healthcare services to rural communities, have yet to reach their full potential.

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Collaboratively, the Ministry and the Civil Service Commission, responsible for the allocation of state-sector staff, have devised strategies to mitigate this severe healthcare personnel shortage. The agreed-upon initiatives involve increasing the production of doctors and nurses over the coming three years until the permissible limit is attained.

By 2026, the country anticipates an additional 10,929 doctors, representing a 44% rise from the current figure, and an extra 59,885 nurses, marking a 51% increase. At present, Thailand boasts 24,649 doctors and 116,038 nurses across the nation, reported Bangkok Post.

A dedicated committee is set to examine potential changes to current regulations, including the prospect of upgrading nurses to nurse specialists. The spokesperson explained that such a move could lead to improved career progression opportunities, offering a significant incentive for personnel to remain within the state sector. Doctors also require a more efficient distribution system and increased training opportunities, particularly for those in residency at regional and other state-run hospitals.

As well as increasing the number of doctors in specialised fields, the government intends to boost the Collaborative Project to Increase the Production of Rural Doctors (CPIRD). This scheme, originally initiated in 1994, aims to place more physicians in remote areas of the country where access to medical care is limited.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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